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Canadian First Nation group sues Quebec power company for $1.6bn

The dam is located in the province of Labrador in Canada’s far northeast (Neil Carey/CC BY-SA 2.0)
A Canadian First Nation community is seeking damages against Quebec’s state-owned utility for the destruction of its land caused by the construction of a dam in Labrador some 50 years ago, Journal de Quebec reports.

The Innu are claiming US$1.6bn from Hydro-Quebec for the inundation of land it owned following the completion of the Churchill Falls Dam in 1971. It is also seeking $200m from the project’s co-owner, the Churchill Falls (Labrador) Corporation Limited.

The dam on the Churchill River is Canada’s second largest and its underground power station has an output of almost 5.5GW.

It created the Smallwood Reservoir, the second largest in the world, which the Innu say flooded 6,500 sq km of their traditional territory.

Mike Mckenzie, the Innu group’s chief, said the construction had caused “devastating impacts” and “irreparable harm”. He added that the companies “seem to have forgotten that they have illegally taken over our lands in order to profit for decades from their rich energy assets”.

The lawsuit, filed with the Superior Court of Quebec, mentions the destruction of “spiritual and cultural links” and the disruption of the habitats of several animals, including caribou, and “impediments to traditional hunting and fishing activities”.

When contacted by news agency AFP, Hydro-Quebec declined to comment, arguing that a legal procedure was underway. However, a spokesperson said the power company “relies on dialogue with the indigenous community to develop and maintain a relationship based on trust”.

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